Growth and childhood asthma.
Height and weight were measured every six months in a long term prospective study of 66 children with chronic perennial asthma for a mean 13.1 years. There was no evidence of growth retardation on entry into the study. Growth developed along normal lines in all 66 children until about 10 years, and in 35 of these children growth continued along normal lines throughout the whole period of follow up. Thirty children showed the physiological decelerating growth velocity pattern seen in children with delay in the onset of puberty, and one child had an early menarche. The tendency for delay in the onset of puberty was significant for both boys and girls and was noted to be independent of severity of asthma. Once puberty finally began in these children, complete catch up growth resulted in the attainment of the predicted adult height. Long term prophylactic inhalation of beclomethasone dipropionate in 26 children in a dosage up to 600 mcg/day before puberty and 400 mcg/day during puberty was shown not to affect growth. It is concluded that asthma had no direct influence on growth in height but was associated with delay in the onset of puberty. The pre-adolescent physiological deceleration of growth velocity that occurs in these children gives the impression of growth retardation.